We sailed from
Buenos Aires at 1700 hrs on schedule. With a vessel as large
as Carnival's M/V Splendor, that takes a little time getting started
considering that she displaces 113,000 tons and is nearly 1,000
feet in length. The movement away from the wharf was barely
perceptible at first and then slowly the gap separating us from
the container pier grew. We continued moving away for a
time with the aid of the bow and stern thrusters before we finally
began to move forward toward the breakwater before a turn to starboard
around another passenger liner. We made our way slowly along
the breakwater, a good idea since there was about a 90 degree
turn to port coming up at the end of the breakwater to enter the
channel to leave Buenos Aires. After we were in the channel,
we made our way out from shore at a rather leisurely pace of about
12 knots getting to watch the satellite communities of Buenos
Aires, moist looking like cities in their own rite, passing along
on the shore in the distance off the starboard side. Further
out, we passed numerous ships anchored out in the Rio de la Plata
delta, at one point 20 readily visible. About 1930, we got
ready to go down to deck 5 aft for the first evening's dinner
at what turned out to be a table for 10 but at which there were
only ever 8 of us at. We had tablemates from the SF bay
area, a couple from outside of Cleveland, and a couple from the
Haliax, NS area. All were great folks and it was fun
dining with them most of the evenings of our voyage. While
we were at dinner that first evening, looking out of the large
windows on the port side, a China Shipping Lines container ship
went by headed for Buenos Aires that seemed like it couldn't have
been more than 100 or so feet away although I suspect that the
gap only appeared small because of the size of the vessel.
Our first night's
sailing would be limited to crossing the Rio de la Plata delta,
arriving in Montevideo before dawn the next morning. The
satellite view below shows (more or less) the route we were taking
across the Rio de la Plata and the expansion shows the Montevideo
harbor area as far as the Punta Brava light to the east of the
harbor. As you can tell from the expansion there were
six lights that I got a chance to photograph while we were in
port in Montevideo or from the water entering or leaving the harbor.
in Montevideo while it was still completely dark the next morning.
As we were coming in, you could see the blink of the Escollera
Sarandi breakwater light coming up off the starboard side of the
Splendor. That said, out onto deck 12, Nikon D3 in hand,
the ISO dialed to the max at 25,600 just for grins to see if I
could pull it off in the dark with what would be only the light
from our vessel as we slid through the opening in the outer breakwater
into the harbor.
Would I ever print
it? Not likely.
Surprised that I could
pull this off handheld. Definitely!
This image file was
noisy and has been processed with Neat Image to clean
up some of the digital noise, but, then again, considering
that the only light was from our vessel, I was pretty
happy that I got it at all on the way into Montevideo
harbor. If you look along the pier to the left of
hte light, you can see some early morning fishermen there.
The image shot in
the warm light heading toward sunset as we were leaving
Montevideo is certainly a far better image. Escollara
Sarandi is a large stone and concrete breakwater that
juts out into the harbor from the foot of Calle Sarandi
that runs up through one of the neighborhoods of Montevideo.
If you look carefully, the brown on the horizon on the
left side of the image is the tip of the spit of land
on which the Punta Brava light stands. (Expansions
Continuing into Montevideo
harbor, one is next treated to a distant view of Cerro de Montevideo,
a fortress dating from 1802 that stands atop a commanding hill
on the west side of the Montevideo harbor that also has a lighthouse.
Shooting something close in the dark is one thing... trying to
pull of the same trick handheld with a long telephoto... well,
let's just forget that. As the sun came over the horizon
behind me though and began to light the top of the hill or cerro,
it was definitely worth shooting! The image on the top left
below is a silhouette of Montevideo looking directly toward where
the sun was rising. The top right image is Cerro de Montevideo,
and the bottom image is a pano of the Montevideo sklyline right
We spent our day in Montevideo
with an organized and leisurely tour of the city by bus that included
old town, the legislative palace, Plaza de la Independencia, and
some of the sculptures by Jose Belloni. While we were touring
the city by bus, I got only a distant view of Faro Punta Brava
in the Punta Carretas section of the city. We got back to
the ship around lunchtime and I decided that I wanted to see about
arranging something with a cab driver for a personal visit to
Punta Brava to photograph the lighthouse. The dispatcher
at the end of the pier spoke a little English and my Spanish was
rusty from scant use over the last 20 years since we left Texas.
Undeterred, I made what I thought was arrangements to get to Punta
Brava. Something was obviously lost in the translation and
my cab driver, who it turned out was a great fellow and spoke
not a word of English, took me to the shopping plaza in Punta
Carretas about a mile from the lighthouse. We went back
and forth in Spanish and he decided that some assistance was in
order, which prompted a quick stop at the Sheraton about a block
away. The bellman spokee some English and between his English
and my slowly returning Spanish we reached common ground and the
cab driver got that I wanted to go to el Faro, the lighthouse.
Off we went and were there in 5 minutes! I photographed
and captured the collection of images below, except for the pano
that was shot from the Splendor when we were leaving Montevideo
later that evening for Puerto Madryn. I asked the cab driver
in Spanish how much it would cost to go from Punta Brava to Cerro
de Montevideo and got back veinte dollares ($20) which prompted
a vamonos from me (let's go!) and off we went. I'm sure
I got to see neighborhoods of Montevideo on the way to la Fortaleza
that most tourists never get to see but about 30 min and completely
on the other side of the harbor, we were on top of the hill on
which Cerro de Montevideo stands.
Cerro de Montevideo
was built in 1802 as a fortress to guard Montevideo harbor and
was restored in the 1930's and opened as a military museum in
1939. The old fotress and lighthouse are beautifully restored
and the views from atop the hill of the harbor and the city of
Montevideo are worth the effort to get there.
From atop Cerro
de Montevideo you get excellent views of the Montevideo harbor,
including the Splendor moored at the commercial piers.
The best view
of the ship, however, was from the bottom of the hill along the
divided road that runs along the side of the harbor...
After a lazy
remainder of the afternoon, the ship prepared to again depart
Montevideo, our next destination the port of Puerto Madryn on
Golfo Nuevo several hundred nautical miles to the south.
Our route out of the Montevideo harbor would take us that afternoon
through the opening in the inner breakwater, past the end of the
pier where the Buenos Aires - Montevideo ferry is moored, past
the container terminal, and then through the opening in the outer
breakwater past the Escollara Sarandi and Escollera Oeste south
lights and once again into the open water of the Rio de la Plata.
The route out of the harbor is shown by the green line on the
satellite image below, along with the location of the various
lighthouses that we would be passing.
Looking off the starboard
side of the Splendor before we left the pier, you get
an afternoon view of the inner harbor breakwater light,
which is a skeletal steel tower standing astride the concrete
inner breakwater wall.
Using the bow and
stern thrusters, the pilot moved us horizontally away
from the pier and the old part of the city of Montevideo.
The freighter La Manche was off our stern (above) as we
moved out toward the inner harbor breakwater.
Moving forward, we
began to approach the end of the pier where the Buenos
Aires - Montevideo ferry was moored. There is a
small skeletal steel pyramidal light at the end of that
pier which is also known as the Muelle A light.
The next open water
gave another view of old Montevideo. We slid past
some of the ships of the Chilean navy and next began to
approach the container pier where the huge Laust Maersk
was moored taking on cargo.
Then we approached
the opening in the outer breakwater with the escollera
Sarandi light off the port side (see some above and right)
standing above the shadow cast by the superstructure of
the Splendor, and the escollera oeste south end light
off the starboard side of the ship .
As the Splendor
drew further away from the city of Montevideo out into the open
waters of the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, we got a great panoramic
view of the city from the upper decks of the ship as the pilot
boat ran parallel to our course off the port side...